Unite has hit back after DHL branded it "reckless" after workers at three Jaguar Land Rover sites voted in favour of industrial action after rejecting a proposed pay increase.
DHL is responsible for bringing parts to production lines at JLR and it is feared a walkout will see key assembly lines at the Solihull and Castle Bromwich sites shut down.
86% of staff at its Halewood plant in Merseyside voted in favour of strike action this week, following votes at its two West Midlands sites last week.
Unite has demanded pay increases of 12.8% for operatives and 20.6% for drivers, and says it remains keen to come to an agreement through negotiations.
Speaking to The Manufacturer, Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said that the balloting process is ongoing and he was unable legally to give further details.
Responding to claims that Unite’s reputation would be damaged by being seen as anti-growth, Mr Burke said: “I’ve worked in unions for over 30 years and it’s inevitable we’ll be painted as the bad guys.”
Unite plans to run four more ballots in the coming weeks, and will also poll members at two other logistics companies supplying Jaguar, meaning the final decision on a strike is not expected for almost four weeks.
On Monday, DHL expressed its disappointment at workers rejecting a proposed pay increase of 4.5% in 2013.
In a statement, DHL said:“We are extremely disappointed that Unite has rejected our very generous offer and voted in favour of industrial action at Jaguar Land Rover’s plants at Castle Bromwich, Solihull and Hams Hall in the Midlands,” said DHL in a statement.
Jaguar Land Rover, which isn’t involved in the dispute, played down fears production could grind to a halt and said it has contingency plans in place to deal with any disruption.